These circulating posts about (the original) Zhen de Shou is direly misinformed. The original contains traces of Sibutramine, while the fake ones contain Ephedra. Sibutramine is also known as Meridia or Reductil. It’s an approved prescription substance for morbidly obese people (BMI of 30 or over). (Ephedra, on the other hand, is banned in North America and Europe.)
The term, by the way, is appetite suppressant — not depressant. (Depress = to lower; Suppress = inhibit). Sibutramine is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for giving you the feeling of satiety. To put it simply, when your brain releases a neurotransmitter, it “recollects” the excess; hence, the word “reuptake.” Sibutramine works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin (and also the reuptake of norepinephrine). Since the serotonin is not being “cleaned up” from your brain system, there is a resulting flood of the said neurotransmitter in your brain.
Sibutramine is said to mimic the effects of amphetamines (aka “meth,” “shabu”), because meth works by forcing the production of serotonin. Either way, whether a chemical is there to “squeeze out” serotonin or “block its drainage,” the point is, you have more serotonin in your brain than usual.
Regarding norepinephrine, it’s released in tandem with adrenaline or epinephrine to give you energy in times of stress. It’s part of the fight-flight response mechanism.
With these two neurotransmitters combined, you get some (if not all) of the following effects: loss of appetite, anxiety, high blood pressure, palpitation, trouble sleeping, euphoria, headache. The list is long. (Side effects sound familiar?) There are the fortunate few who experience only one or two side effects and experience them mildly.
Anyway, for those people who are experiencing fatal side effects, here are some of the probable causes:
1. You drink ALCOHOL. You have to be a SOBER party pooper because Sibutramine is contraindicated in people who can’t give up alcohol.
2. You are hypertensive / have high blood pressure.
3. You have hyperthyrodism.
4. You or your family has a history of: heart / coronary disease. // Existing damage on heart valves, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, serious arrhythmias, previous myocardial infarction
5. You have liver/kidney disease.
6. You have epilepsy / get seizures.
7. You have bleeding / clotting problems.
8. You have glaucoma.
9. You have gallstones.
10. You are anorexic or bulimic.
11. You are suffering from depression.
12. You are taking other drugs that also affect the serotonin / norepinephrine levels in your brain such as antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, generic name Fluoxetine, is an SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor).
13. In general, if you are sick and on medication.
14. You have been taking it (Zhen de Shou / Sibutramine) for more than one year.
15. You take more than one pill in 24 hours. (Recommended dosage of Sibutramine: 10mg)
16. YOU ARE NOT OBESE.
17. Oh. YOU TAKE ILLEGAL NARCOTIC DRUGS.
ALSO: When you stop taking Sibutramine, you HAVE TO WAIT TWO WEEKS before taking it again.
Anyway, I know people who take this and are perfectly alive and kicking. I suppose it’s because they’re in peak physical condition and have a clean genetic history. They also do not take more than one pill, and they buy the original.
Research well. Get your facts straight. Look at credible books and websites. Ask a doctor.
P/S – November 2008, USA — The FDA recalled Zhen de Shou products because of undeclared amounts of Sibutramine (not written in the package). Sibutramine is a regulated substance.
Remember that Sibutramine still has side effects. If you really want to lose weight by taking medication, it is a must that you consult a doctor first and don’t forget to give him your entire medical history.